A biting matter. - Baby Steps in High Heels

Monday, April 4, 2011

A biting matter.

Occasionally – yes, even in Texas – we get terrible, blustering winds. Quite literally, they are the worst biting, ice cold winds.

Occasionally – even with the best of friends, but generally more with acquaintances, we make comments in passing. These comments can be hurtful (whether or not they’re meant to be). Or comments are made toward us that catch us off guard. These comments can be quite biting.

But these are not the biting occasions that are currently on my mind.

Today I’m talking about biting in the most literal sense. You know – when your 16-month-old child takes a bite out of your leg. Or your shoulder.

And then does it again.

And again.

And then laughs when you tell her ‘no’ … laughs when you tell her that biting is bad … laughs when you attempt to implement a time out or any other form of punishment.

I swear, the first time she did it, I was 100% confident that it was a teething thing. I still am. Those first few times were in the midst of a sweet nuzzle or cuddle, and I know she was cutting four teeth at a time.


However, things have changed a bit since that first time.

For one, I now think she occasionally does it just to get a rise out of me. She loves my reaction and simply laughs at it.
Over the weekend, for the first time, I’m pretty sure she actually bit me in a moment of defiance. She wanted my phone, which I did not give to her, so she crawled over and bit my leg!

The third element here is that she has been bitten at day care. I think that this is where she learned the behavior in the first place.

And I’m at a complete loss. Reprimanding a 16-month-old seems to be utterly useless.

Although time outs seem to be the most effective mode of punishment with her, I am fairly certain that she has no clue what she’s done wrong once those 60-90 seconds are up.

I know consistency is key. And that, eventually, she will get it.

But, until that time comes … how do I manage to keep myself from becoming a replacement for Sophie the Giraffe?

More importantly, how do I prevent her from doing this to others?!

Fortunately, she seems to single me out. I ask her teachers every day if she has been biting, and – so far – she has not. I sooo don’t want her to be ‘that’ kid.

I know I have some reading and research to do, but I’d love to hear from y’all. I always find real life experiences much more useful than theoretical books.

Not that I won’t be reading up, but I typically have to explore several different approaches and then mix them into some formula that best fits our family.

And usually, after spending lots of time doing that, I realize that half a dozen moms right within my reach of communication could have just told me up front what I ended up figuring out … so have at it! Any suggestions? I’m all ears!


  1. Definitely being consistent helps. Eventually it will sink in that's she doing something bad. When you do punish her, try not to react. Put her in time out, say "we don't bite" and that's it. Don't give her a reaction to react to.

    Is she talking yet? Maybe she's frustrated at not being able to verbalize her thoughts and bites instead.

    Keep her day care teachers up to date on the biting. Even if she's not doing it there, at least they're aware and can keep an eye out.

  2. I may not be a popular person with this answer, but when Marlee bit me, at first I would put her in timeout, but she kept doing it, until one day I ended up flicking her cheek (not hard enough to leave a mark, but hard enough to get her attention) I only had to do that 2 times before she didn't bite me any more. Of course I also talked to her, and told her biting wasn't good. She also only bit me, and for a while I thought it was a teething thing...which at first I think it was, and then I think she did it when she wanted some attention or because she thought it was funny.

  3. Here's my controversial answer.

    Keep a travel-sized bottle of listerine and q-tips nearby. When she bites, swab her gums with a listerine soaked q-tip and tell her no, biting hurts.

    My middle son's preschool teacher suggested this to us when he was 2 and it really worked. It associates discomfort right with the source of the biting. And the amount that you would swab on their gums isn't enough for them to swallow or hurt them. It was very effective for us.

    (Shell's disclamier: this is what worked for us- I have no medical degree to say that this is okay)

  4. I think you just find what works for your child. My oldest didn't understand that what she was doing hurt no matter what I did. When she bit her 6 month old baby sister {she was 3} on the cheek that I had enough. I bit her so she would understand that it hurt. She never did it again. My second daughter all it took was a huge gasp and me screaming "OW!" for her to never do it again. And with Monkey, a timeout was the trick. She hates the naughty corner and will do anything to not have to go there. It will pass, I promise! :)

  5. Yeah I'm gonna fall into the not the popular answer also, but I bit my daughter back. One time was all it took. I didn't leave a mark on her, but bit her hard enough for her to know it hurt. She never bit again.
    My son, thank the Lord never ever bit. (His sister probably warned him of the consequences)

  6. Another not so popular answer here. Like Day 2 Day Will got bitten back. He only did it once. MP well we'll see how that one goes.